Oh, the Humanity: Snowpocalypse 2014
By now I'm sure you've read all about the ice, gridlock and panic that shut down cities in the Deep South on Tuesday. The chaos that followed two inches of snow and ice is unprecedented. Our team in Atlanta and Birmingham had their fair share of troubles trying to get home on Tuesday. Of course, many left at the same time as everyone else in the metropolitan area, and had to make a decision between walking home or sitting in their cars for up to 24 hours to go less than ten miles. That is, if they didn't run out of gas, as many gas stations in the city did before it even got dark. Those that opted to spend the night in our office actually got off easy.
One of our teammates got stranded five miles from her house with only high heels to walk in. She knocked on the closest door she could find and was greeted by a woman happy to give her a pair of walking shoes, socks and water to make her trek home. Another was stuck in her car for ten hours until her son walked all the way to her at 11:30 pm with tennis shoes and gloves and helped her finally get home hours later. And another was forced to spend Tuesday night at a gas station. She finally made it home the following afternoon after accepting a few rides from strangers who dedicated their day to helping people out.
Russ Danford had a 24-hour journey home from work on Tuesday. He witnessed numerous acts of grace, kindness and humanity, including "complete strangers joining forces to push cars up hills and direct traffic, people bringing water and food to stranded motorists, and an amazing couple who gave shelter and food to ten random people who would have otherwise spent the night in their cars in 12-degree temperatures."
These are the stories that matter. It seems that whenever bedlam strikes, there are always people ready to make sacrifices to lend a hand. This situation is the perfect picture of what a community should look like. To the "Good Samaritans" recognized above, your efforts go a long way. And those are just a few examples of the kindness displayed in the South this week.
There's also the Chick-fil-A employees in Birmingham that volunteered to walk up and down Highway 280 handing out free sandwiches until they ran out.
Or the father in Atlanta that walked six miles in the below freezing temperatures just to spend the night with his daughter that was stranded at school with her classmates and teachers. Not to mention all the teachers responsible for comforting these kids that had to be away from their parents all night.
Or the man that walked down Atlanta's Southbound Connector handing our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot drinks to drivers stuck in the gridlock.
Or the person that created this interactive map allowing people to publicly offer shelter.
Or the woman that created the Facebook group "Snowed Out Atlanta" to connect thousands of people in need with people willing to help.
Let's not forget about all of the businesses that stayed open all night and offered shelter and whatever resources they had in stock to keep people comfortable. In particular: The Home Depot, Hyatt Wyndham Atlanta Galleria, HYATT house Atlanta/Cobb Galleria, Kroger, Holiday Inn Express, CVS, Econo Lodge, Publix and so many more.
The negative attention cast southward this week is by no means unjustified. Poor urban planning, lack of coordination between county governments and a few bad decisions led to a dangerous and largely unnecessary crisis. But to only focus on those facts misses the larger truth - that humanity shines brightest under the harshest conditions. For those still shaking their heads at us...well, bless your hearts.